by Rich Klein
Life has a funny way of changing course. What I had initially intended to write about this week has been delayed by recent events. Fortunately none of those events have to do with South Carolina, tax returns, the recent passing of Joe Paterno or any other really weighty subject. Instead one somewhat personally aggravating subject and one fun topic are on the agenda.
First, the aggravation known as the 2011 Topps Diamond Giveaway. Since Thursday, January 19, the website where collectors can redeem codes has been down. Normally a site going offline is just something that happens during the normal course of business. Every company with a website has probably had it happen to them. However, when an announced deadline is less than two weeks away, it can really throw a wrench into the plans.
Well, since January 31 is the announced deadline to redeem codes from 2011 Topps Series One and Update, losing online access for several days does not leave much time for recovery. Interestingly enough, 2011 series two codes will be good through the end of June. In case you wonder why series two has such leeway, just check leading on-line retailers for their price for all three series. Series two hobby boxes are considerably cheaper, as low as approximately $35 per box so my guess is Topps is stuck with a huge quantity of these packs. Of course, we can point out that unlike series one and the update series, no series two packs were included in "value" boxes. Personally, I would have used Allen and Ginter packs, just as in 2010 to create series two value boxes.
Also…and this is my idea only as a person well versed in customer service… Topps should voluntarily extend their deadline for the other series to at least the end of February as a goodwill gesture for their own system failure. This is now the second time in just three months that the Diamond Collection web site has been down for a significant period of time.
I like to say that while overall, it has been a real blast trading vintage cards through this Topps promotion, the timing of this latest crash is, well, not good.
Here was a Facebook thread on this subject:
1st Collector: At this point, it’s really strange and disrespectful to the customers that Topps hasn’t provided a little more information. If the web site weren’t the ONLY way to participate in the Diamond Giveaway promotion, that would be one thing, but since it is—and most of us have spent a good bit of our money with Topps this year—I believe we deserve a little more consideration. I understand that web sites go down and need to work properly, but at least give us more than “We will be back shortly” since that has now proven not to be true.
2nd Collector: I wonder if they actually look at what we're saying here on Facebook?
3rd Collector: One can only hope.
2nd Collector: Exactly-my guess is that they don't work weekends!!!!!!
4th Collector: This is not a Topps managed page. They deactivated their Diamond Giveaway page in September, and I've just filled the void. So... the simple answer is nobody from Topps officially watches this page. You can complain (though they just delete any negative comments or complaints) on their official page.
5th Collector: Do you know if there's been any progress of getting the page back up?
6th Collector: LOL. Do you really think topps is going to pay anyone overtime or double time to fix the site over the weekend I don't think so. I think it will be up some time in the morning on Monday but that is just a guess.."
OK, I feel better. I got that off my chest. Topps, please fix your web site and give collectors who have spent a lot of money on your cards to have little longer to conclude the 2011 trading year.
I noticed a post from our editor on another web site so the second half of this column is just some thoughts related to a happier subject: 1970 Topps. I was a young kid, despite my wife's occasional comments that I was hatched at the age of 23, who loved opening Topps packs. Where I lived in New Jersey, I do not remember ever seeing any high number packs--just #1-546. I'm sure those cards were released in my area, it is also possible by the last two series I had slightly burnt out on these packs. I saw more than enough last two series cards in collections to believe they were issued where I lived.
In 1982, at a Parsaippany NJ Show one of the dealers challenged me to chew the gum from a 1970 high number pack. He said he'd give me the pack if I could keep it in my mouth. Now that was a food challenge I liked so I suffered through the really bad 1970 gum and got it down my throat safely. The dealer did hand me the pack and I was thrilled to get a nicely centered Nolan Ryan among the minty cards inside!
The other aspect about 1970 is many of the players in the set met untimely ends at very young ages. Miguel Fuentes, who is one of the two Seattle Pilots rookies pictured on card #88 was killed in bar fight in January, 1970. I suspect it is possible but really doubtful that any autographed cards of Fuentes exist. Another player for whom I doubt any autograph cards exist is 1970 Paul Edmondson. I could have sworn that his car crash was two months later than I researched but based on the death being in February and what series his card was issued, I would doubt any legit signed Edmondson cards exist either.
Another player that should have a few signed cards is Herman Hill. Hill died in a swimming accident in the 1970-71 off-season and the belief is he is the only major league player ever killed by sharks. Some official reports say drowning but either way there are not a lot of signed Herman Hill cards available. And, of course, the most famous rookie in the 1970 Topps set died in a plane crash on August 2, 1979. Thurman Munson did have the nine years to sign cards but he was always considered a grouch and did not sign a ton of autographs while living.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]